Jewellery Mavericks: An interview with Annoushka Ducas MBE
Famed jewellery maven, Annoushka, is committed to making beautiful jewellery that seamlessly integrates into the everyday lives of women. She wants women to experiment with wearing their jewellery and not feel tied to the old paradigms of wearing certain pieces with certain types clothing. Basically, wear what you want, when you want!
Jewellery designed by women to be worn by women is something very close to Annoushka’s heart. She passionately supports strong female voices in the world of jewellery and is driven to support other women realise their own dreams through her charitable work with ‘Give A Future’.
Annoushka was awarded an MBE in 2013 for her incredible body of work and continued support of the British jewellery industry.
We’re honoured to share her passion and experiences in the fourth instalment of our Jewellery Mavericks series.
Who was your greatest influence in shaping your jewellery taste? Do you remember when and how your passion was kindled?
As a child growing up I was always obsessed with my mother’s jewellery box, not because she had particularly high quality jewellery but mainly because it was like a box of treasure–full of incredible pieces, both real and costume, that she had collected from around the world. I suspect that this was the start of my passion for jewellery. My designs are influenced by so many different things–from my travels which have taken me all over the world to my Russian heritage, which has inspired my recent Touch Wood collection. I am fascinated by how cultural traditions influence behaviour and Touch Wood celebrates the age-old tradition of touching wood for protection.
If you could only wear one piece of jewellery for the rest of your life, what piece would you choose and why?
The first piece of jewellery I designed was my own engagement ring, as I couldn’t find what I wanted. It was a wonderful experience and one that I will always remember.
Quite by chance, the workshop that made it for me happens to be next to our latest boutique in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong, so somehow, twenty nine years later, I feel I have come full circle. Having not trained in design jewellery, I was lucky enough that the workshop who made my ring were happy to make it up in brass for me. I was able to get a really good idea of what it would look and feel like–I was able to make a few minor changes before they went on to make it in gold and set the rubies and diamonds. The design is quite Art Deco in style which was quite an unconscious decision at the time but has definitely influenced the way I design jewellery now.
Is there an item which you consider both a simple accessory and a piece of art, both everyday and statement?
I wear my Annoushka Spinning Globe Pendant every day–it’s the perfect piece and works with every outfit no matter what the occasion. An important part of my design philosophy is that my jewellery should be playful and the globe spins perfectly in both directions. It is incredibly tactile and acts almost like a set of worry beads. I never take off my Crown Rings– they are incredibly stackable and can be worn in multiple incarnations depending on my mood.
What are the biggest trends you’re currently seeing in the jewellery industry?
Having designed jewellery for over 25 years now, it is always interesting to see how quickly trends come around again. Charms have always had an important place in jewellery because they are so wonderfully collectable and evoke so many memories of places or events, so I am really pleased to see that they are really coming back now. I want to encourage people to wear charms in different ways–they don’t have to be worn exclusively on a charm bracelet. Why not wear them on a necklace, or hung from hoop earrings, or as a simple pendant on a chain?
I have just worked on a fantastic collaboration with The Vampires Wife, where Susie Cave and I have designed a collection of charms based on Susie’s favourite Nick Cave songs. It’s a beautiful, romantic collection and we have worked hard to bring a beautiful level of detail to the miniaturisation and articulation of each design.
Is custom designed jewellery a passing trend or is it here to stay? What are the advantages of custom pieces to off-the-shelf ones?
Custom jewellery is a bit like commissioning a painting–you are never 100% sure how it’s going to turn out, although it is becoming increasingly easier with all the new CAD programmes available to really understand what your piece is actually going to look like.
Having something unique and original made is wonderful and the whole process is very special: there is nothing more satisfying than being able to admire the piece of jewellery that you imagined.
The success of our bespoke Chain Letters collection is testament to the fact that people are increasingly wanting something unique that is personal to them.
Are there any rules to follow when designing the dream engagement ring or should it be led by imagination only?
I think each person will have their own dreams about what their engagement ring should be – for me, I always knew that I wanted to wear it every day. As a result it needed to be really practical which meant that inevitably it needed to sit relatively low on my finger, so that it doesn’t get caught on my clothes etc. I do think it is important to try different stones next to your skin as sometimes the stone that you dreamed of may not suit your skin tone as you thought it might. I know that when I designed my ring I had my heart set on an emerald but when I actually put an emerald next to my skin I found it didn’t suit me – and I ended up with a ruby!
What are misconceptions of the jewellery industry you believe first time buyers have the most common?
That all jewellery is rather similar… it’s not! Even the most generic jewellery can be made beautiful, from our exquisite Organza bangles to our Crown rings which are quite an upgrade, and remarkably different, from the classic eternity ring.
At the heart of each of my creations is my love of storytelling: I have always felt that each piece should have a strong narrative and a real sense of romance.
When you think about customisation of a ring or jewellery piece, what gets you excited?
We live in a society where everything is rather too immediate and we are not as used to savouring the experience of customisation.
Having a piece made especially for you creates a sense of expectation – customising a piece so that you make decisions to define a piece of jewellery that is your very own is very exciting and ensures the piece is worth waiting for.
A massive thank you to Annoushka for sharing her wonderfully creative thoughts on jewellery with us! Visit the possibilities of custom to see how ring designs can be personalised and to learn more about how you can make your engagement ring design yours.